Bulgaria Schengen Report Put Off Because of Technical Matters

Bulgaria in EU | January 31, 2011, Monday // 08:35|  views

The non-adoption of two technical reports on Bulgaria is due to purely technical issues, according to Bulgarian Deputy-Minister of Interior Veselin Vuchkov.

According to Vuchkov, who spoke on the Bulgarian National Radio, this is a completely regular procedure that is no cause for worry.

Vuchkov said that EU member Slovenia, who had not sent monitors to Bulgaria, has requested additional information regarding the functions of Bulgaria's military police. The questions will be duly answered, said the vice-minister.

Friday it became clear that the two reports on Bulgaria were not adopted, while at the same time the reports for neighbor and fellow Schengen applicant Romania passed through the approval of the Schengen Area evaluation group (Sch-Eval).

It is thought that the fact that the Schengen working group has not adopted the two reports on Bulgaria might also affect Romania, considering the two countries are supposed to join the Schengen Area together.

On January 14, the final report of the EU experts on Bulgaria's preparedness for accession to the Schengen Agreement has concluded that the country has not met the technical criteria to join the borderless European Schengen Agreement. According to the report, Bulgaria still has trouble with the border control on its land border with Turkey.

However, in the last weeks of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, key EU member states - most notably France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Finland - have declared their opposition to the Schengen accession of the two Balkan states saying it would be premature as Bulgaria and Romania still face issues with the implementation of the Schengen requirements with respect to controlling what will become their external EU/Schengen boders.

What is more, since December 2010 the Interior Ministers of France and Germany as well as France's EU Affairs Minister Laurent Wauquiez have voiced additional criticism with respect to Bulgaria and Romania as far as the progress in their judicial reform and rule of law is concerned, and have demanded that the European Commission's post-EU accession monitoring of the two newcomers under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (most notably EC's annual progress reports expected in July) should be taken into account when deciding upon Bulgaria and Romania's Schengen fitness.

In spite of the assurances issued made by the government in Sofia that Bulgaria will be fully qualified for Schengen accession by March 2011, it is virtually impossible that Bulgaria and Romania will be approved for entry according to the original deadline. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov has recently mentioned he hoped that Bulgaria will make it into Schengen by the end of 2011, which appears to be a more plausible timeline.

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Tags: Dimitar Georgiev, Slovenia, Finland, Germany, France, Laurent Wauquiez, Romania, Foreign Ministry, Turkish border, border control, Schengen Accession, Schengen entry, Schengen Agreement, Schengen Area, Schengen


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